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Update: Retention of a 2E child - has anyone done this?

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 

I'm going to try to make this as short as possible.  After 2 years of HS'ing, ds (now 10) went back to school per his request.  His adjustment was rocky - lots of anxiety -  and after a few months, we decided to do some outside testing for a LD -- nothing significant turned up.  The special ed team did testing, and it turns out that ds has significant speech and language delays - still.  Big areas of deficit in receptive and expressive language.  He had been in speech therapy from 3 years old, but his former school matriculated him out at the end of 1st grade.  The recent results were a surprise (understatement) to the team and his teacher, and frankly, to us because he had been compensating pretty well.  We received all the testing results at the beginning of May.  Academically, he did well enough to pass this year even though his writing and reading comprehension testing was borderline passing.


The school social worker is concerned that because next year ds will be going to middle school and there is a different social dynamic, less supervision, and she's afraid that because of his deficits he'll be a target for subtle bullying or social exclusion, and this will cause more anxiety for ds.  She feels that because he's the youngest boy in his class, that he could benefit from another year to work on his anxiety as well as speech therapy before he moves to middle school. (This would be a non-issue if he didn't have to move to middle school next year.)  We've been assured that they would differentiate the curriculum to meet his academic needs - especially in math.   The special ed team made no recommendation for retention - they've never seen a case like ds's and have left the decision up to us.  He would receive the same services in his elementary school as he would in middle school.  The difference is that the new school would be new as well as the entire teaching and services staff - and they don't know ds yet, and ds doesn't know them and there's always ramp up time.   Hubby and I are really torn -- we see some advantages for retaining him now, and we see some advantages for moving him on and dealing with the IEP accommodations.  


Any BTDT would be appreciated - or just commiseration -- It's a tough one.



post #2 of 32

That is a tough one. I'm pretty against retention in general. The negatives creep in over the years and the long term studies don't favor it at all. There are cases where it is positive though and it's in situations like yours... where a problem is identified and the retention year can be spent fixing the problem as opposed to just hoping a year of "maturity" will fix it all.  


Have you talked to this new school? Do you know where they stand and what they could offer? I'd do this before making a decision. I'd also look into the option of retaining 5th grade for the services but then "skipping" 6th grade and going straight into 7th. It may not be something you want to do BUT, I'd really want the option in place. In our district "grade correction" is pretty common in middle school with families who red-shirted perfectly capable boys in kindergarten and then realize they need to be in the right grade.


Whatever you decide, hugs to you. It is a tough decision.



post #3 of 32
Thread Starter 

He will be in the same school district and both dh and I have toured the middle school.  We haven't formally spoken to the special ed team there -- but the psychologist that tested ds (and was leaning towards not retaining ds) is on the special ed team there as well.  The ST and counselor would be new members to us, but since we are still in the same district, the services would be consistent.  


We do have the option of skipping ds later if it's warranted, but I'm more concerned with the immediate impact to ds right now.  We briefly mentioned that it was an option to retain him when he expressed some concern about middle school being more difficult and that he would miss his current teacher (who would be his teacher next year if we decide to retain - and she is really awesome!)  He said no way - he wants to move on with the rest of his friends.  I'm all about including my dc's in decisions, but am balking on this one because there is no way that he can fully understand the long term impact to him, one way or the other.  I'm also concerned that although he was able to squeak by this year with his reading and writing, he'll be even further behind next year and will struggle to keep up.  The ST recommendation is 2 x/ week for pull out as well as school counseling services 2 to 4x/month.  All of this pull out will happen during classes and he'll need to make up the work.  They'll give him accommodations on tests as well as additional accommodations on written school work since he qualifies for a dx of written output disorder.  


We're recognizing that ds needs to find ways to make his own accommodations with a tutor that understands his learning style (VSL) and is not focused on simply remediation in the way the school teaches material.  We haven't identified anyone yet, but an additional year would give us some breathing room.  Our long term goal would be that he wouldn't require any formal school accommodations by allowing him time, an extra year, to get some services and extra help, but it really isn't clear at this point if that's a possibility.  He may always need some accommodation to thrive in school.  In the meantime, he's the type of kid that absolutely needs to be challenged academically because he'll resort to checking out mentally if he's not.  



post #4 of 32

My mother retained my profoundly gifted brother in 4th grade. He did it twice at two different schools. He refused to do his work because "I already know all that stuff" (he did) and had a lot of behavior problems. He had an October birthday and was the youngest in the class. He had behavior problems from first grade on. He was just really immature for his age and being the youngest didn't help. 


He had a great teacher the second time in 4th grade. The guy really "got" my brother and it was a good year. He had fewer problems after that. He is currently working on his second PhD. (1 in genetics and this one is in chemistry). 


It was a good decision on my mom's part. 


Academics are important for gifted kids, but it's not the only thing.


It's very tough having a very asynchronous kid. 

post #5 of 32

Hi LauraLoo!  Long time no see :).


What's your DS's self-concept?  How does he view himself in the world, and what would his take-aways from this be?  Are the essential differences that he would have the same teacher and potentially less social rubs/exclusion?  What's the group of kids coming up like (IME, there's often a vibe in a group of kids, and in DD's old school each level had a rep {ie group gelled well and easy to get along; really problematic as a group etc}]?  What's your experience with their ability to differentiate?  How socially integrated is your DS with his friends - would being in that group provide him with some insulation from the peer stuff in middle school?


I understand how this is tempting.  It would never work for my DS, who is also 2E.  He already sees himself as underserved by the curriculum, so to hold him back academically and remove him from his social group would cause him to check out entirely.  Would HSing another year have any benefits?  I anticipate that DS will be back home this year or next because it's just so hard, it appears, for the school to accomodate the 2E stuff.  He's had a good couple of years in school overall, but the written output load will increase markedly next year and I just don't know how they're going to accomodate it.  I read about how other places differentiate and accomodate, but we're not getting that at all.  He wants to continue next year to stay with his friends - we have to see how the rest falls into place.  All that to say, I'm very empathetic with the balancing act.

Edited by joensally - 6/26/11 at 2:27pm
post #6 of 32
Thread Starter 

Hi joensally hola.gif   I've been a little quiet on this board because this year has been a lot of watching, waiting, and testing.  Let's see if I can answer your questions -- DS self-concept has been forming this year as he's been going through it.  Essentially, I think he thinks he's pretty smart in some areas, has some work in other areas, and fully recognizes that he's different than others in a lot of ways.  He'd tell you that he's a creative and "weird" kid - lol.  All of it is true, although I'd replace the "weird" with quirky, which I think is more accurate.  His goal for going back to school was to be with friends more consistently.  I wasn't sure if he was going to even make it a month and was completely prepared to pull him out if necessary.  I've been pleased with his school for the most part, and I think they've done all they really can given the limitations of school.  His current set of friends, 3 pretty close ones, and about 4 other good ones, could provide some help next year.  However, there will be 3 elementary schools that will merge to form the middle school - so there's a chance that he won't have any of those friends in his class and would only see them once a day a recess and possibly at lunch.  He's not especially easy to get to know - he's a bit introverted and does much better one on one or in smaller groups.  His language issues make it harder for him to keep up in conversation, especially in a busy environment.  If he is retained, the social worker has already placed another gifted boy in his class that she felt would hit if off well with ds and was making provisions for another few boys with similar interests and temperaments to also be in his class.  I think that while it would initially be a shocker for ds to be without his current circle of friends, he might find good, possibly even better, friends in the created circle with the help of the social worker.  That's just a guess.  It's been alluded, however, that this upcoming class isn't necessarily as kind & accepting of differences, so who knows.   I would definitely homeschool again, but with the ST and counseling services that he qualifies for, it almost seems like it's a necessity to keep him in school at least through next year so he has the ability to work through some of these issues.  He still wants to be in school.


I don't fully understand how much they'll be able to differentiate the curriculum for ds if he's retained - and my primary concern is math.  I'm prepared to provide additional curriculum, although his current teacher is a math & science specialist, so I think she already has some ideas in mind.  She really is great.   The team has assured us that they absolutely would keep him academically challenged, and they agreed that it would be important for ds.


It's more of an unknown as to what middle school will bring.  Maybe that's what scares me the most.  I don't know what would be more damaging to his psyche long term - being retained, feeling like he "failed" and dealing with his deficits, or promoting him and dealing with possible academic failure, more anxiety trying to keep up, and the possibility that he may not make any new friends and be distanced from his current friends.





post #7 of 32
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by RiverTam View Post


Academics are important for gifted kids, but it's not the only thing.


It's very tough having a very asynchronous kid. 

I agree and it really is!

post #8 of 32

How young is he for his grade? In general, I'm not a fan of retention. But that is the one thing that could push me over. When is his birthday, what is the cutoff where you live, is redshirting common?


Otherwise, I think that accommodation is the way to go because holding kids back doesn't fix what is different about them, it just makes them older and feel bad about themselves. It's not a solution *for most kids*.


post #9 of 32
Thread Starter 

His birthday is June, the cut off is Dec. 1, but red shirting is really, really common.  He is the youngest boy in his class, if that gives you any idea of how common it is. I'm not sure how young he is for his entire grade, but I would imagine he's one of the youngest.  We have a young K program in our district, so essentially many kids do two years of K before going into 1st grade.  We weren't living in this district when ds was in K.   The district, in general, does not promote retention, especially at the point where ds is.  


I'm not sure that retention will fix what's different about him.  It might give him some extra time to get some coping and learning/organization strategies in place so that learning in school would be easier.  I just don't know about that.


I'm typically not a wishy-washy decision maker, but I keep going back and forth.  



post #10 of 32

Originally Posted by LauraLoo View Post


  It might give him some extra time to get some coping and learning/organization strategies in place so that learning in school would be easier.  I just don't know about that.


I'm typically not a wishy-washy decision maker, but I keep going back and forth.  



I have a DD who is 2E and had a 504 Plan for 7th grade. Some of her issues were different than your sons, but handwriting was a concern for her, too. Her 504 included:


1. one period a day with the special education teacher. All her other periods were in regular classes.

2. assignments involving writing were "modified to ensure success" (they were shorter, or could be typed, had extra time, etc depending on the exact assignment)

3. she had extra time for homework -- everything had to be turned in by the following Monday, so she always had the weekend up finish things up.

4. communication was a huge issue, as she often couldn't write down the assign. in the time allotted, so her teachers and I emailed, the sp. ed. teacher worked as a go-between when that wasn't working, etc.


For anxiety:


DD had a safe space to go during the day. Part of the problem with middle school for a kid with anxiety is that there isn't a way to opt out and get a few minutes to pull themselves together. DD could always go to the social workers office. If the social worker was with someone, she could go to the nurses office. If that didn't work, she could go to the office and say "I need a break"


She also spent time in CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) working on dealing with anxiety.


She also took a social skills class (outside of school) which helped a GREAT deal with anxiety.


If your son had NO friends and was already falling on his face socially, retention might make sense to me. But he's not. He has friends and he's doing OK socially.  IMHO, leave him with his friends and work on getting appropriate accommodation. He'll most likely need accommodation when he gets there anyway. And since he's doing OK now socially, retention could make things a lot worse for him.


post #11 of 32

That's a tough one, LauraLoo.  I can see why you're on the fence.  I think Linda's sharing good wisdom.

post #12 of 32
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post


1. one period a day with the special education teacher. All her other periods were in regular classes.

Is it possible that (like Linda's post above) one period could be devoted to his specific needs.  Meaning, instead of a sp. ed. teacher--perhaps that period of the day could be designated for his speech therapy and counseling needs.  When he doesn't have that to attend, perhaps it could a "study hall" and he could work on his homework or just chill out if he needed time to himself. 


I suggest this so that he isn't being pulled from his regular classes to rec. services.  Benefits include being present for the material and not calling attention to his differences in the middle of class.



post #13 of 32
Thread Starter 

Thanks, Linda and Amy.  I think it's possible that if I knew the specific accommodations that would be made - like the one's Linda spelled out, I'd feel a lot more comfortable with him progressing to middle school.   We just weren't able to get to that point because the type of accommodations would be different if he was retained or promoted - and we hadn't made that decision before school was out for summer.

post #14 of 32

Would it be possible for the junior high to seed his class or classes with supportive friends he already has, in the same way that has been discussed if he is retained?


In general, if he is strongly wanting to stay with his cohort and deal with the extra workload, I would be inclined to have him sit down and work on figuring out what accommodations might be helpful and strategies for coping with the additional work and the kind of work that will be asked. I'm not advocating giving him the decision, exactly, but since he is actively asking to be schooled at this school, he could read sample IEPs, and engage with the weighing process before you decide. Maybe that would either reassure you that he is, or help bolster the feeling that he isn't, ready.


Good luck,



post #15 of 32

Kids generally are targets for bullies based on personality, not age. His personality is not likely to change much. Retaining him will give far more for the bullies to give him a hard time about. No way would I retain him. I am adament against retention. If I felt my child really needed to be retained, I would return to home schooling before I would consider that.

post #16 of 32
Thread Starter 

There's bullying and then there's also social exclusion.  Middle school is typically about fitting in and not being different.  DS is different -- and social isolation would put him at a disadvantage when it comes to potential bullying.  A child with language deficits is always going to have to work harder at keeping up in conversation since they're slower to respond - and this definitely comes across as different.  He's astute enough to pick up social clues, but slower in pulling all the pieces together.  It's similar to being in a foreign country and not being fluent in the language and knowing that you are probably missing 1/2 to 3/4 of what's going on around you.  And because he understands that he is slower to understand and respond, he exhibits high levels of anxiety in larger group situations.  And thus the downward spiral begins - more anxiety, less ability to attend, less ability to respond, even more anxiety, and so on.  He is a definite potential target for bullying, worse case, and maybe even as devastating - being socially excluded.  And while I believe that he has good friends, I've known kids to shun a "different" friend when others start putting the different friend down.  I would hope that this wouldn't happen to ds, but it's a possibility.


Pulling him back in to HS - which I don't have a problem with per se - wouldn't help him develop his social confidence since it would limit his exposure to these situations.  He's perfectly comfortable at home.  Although his language deficits are significantly less noticeable at home because his levels of anxiety are way down, they are still present.  And we're more patient than another middle school student might be.  He still wants to be in school to see his friends on a daily basis, so I'm trying to balance all his wants and needs and also being aware that he has some limitations at the same time.  The question is, do we wait until he has some speech therapy to help him in these situations before promoting him to middle school or do we try to work therapy in at the same time as he goes to middle school?  It's simply not a situation of not retaining because I'm against retention as a rule (which I am, btw) - it's more complicated.  It's a different place to be when you are considering retaining for non-academic reasons and with a kid who has fooled us and many outside professionals for so many years because he's been compensating at such a high level, but at great cost.  


We're in the process of lining up a psychologist and a private speech therapist to help him yet this summer.  We had a slow start since we didn't get the results of his testing until May and there's a shortage of good therapists in our area, not to mention the time involved in just getting things lined up.  Even very good therapy will take time to see it's effect. 



post #17 of 32
Originally Posted by LauraLoo View Post

 It's similar to being in a foreign country and not being fluent in the language and knowing that you are probably missing 1/2 to 3/4 of what's going on around you.  And because he understands that he is slower to understand and respond, he exhibits high levels of anxiety in larger group situations.  



 This is some of what goes on for my DD (who has language issues as part of her autism package) and a social skills class the best thing we've done for social anxiety.
Have you checked into social skills class?


Being in CGT while in middle school makes sense. They worked on basic techniques for dealing with anxiety, and then my DD would talk to her therapist about what had happened that week and they worked on which techniques work better for different situations. I don't think you have to *fix* this before starting middle school. I think you can help him work on it while leaving him with his friends.


If he had no friends, or if you were just now transitioning from homeschooling to school, my response would be different. But to fail a child with friends at this point seems cruel to me.

post #18 of 32

I would lean towards not retaining - he does not want it, and there is no reason they cannot work on things in the next year. I am glad you have therapists lined up for the summer.  In any event it is a tough decisions.




Hello!!!!  Long time no read,



post #19 of 32

I wouldn't normally support retention, but in your case, I think it makes sense.  It sounds like your ds needs a supportive, involved teaching and sp ed staff to help him gain certain skills. He needs a teacher who is tuned in to his needs.  And in middle school, when he switches classes each subject, I would be concerned that he wouldn't get that support from his teachers.  Not that they wouldn't be good people, it's just that they would have more than 100 kids a day to deal with and follow vs. 25 or so with an elementary teacher. 


It sounds like your elementary school is trying to find a new peer group for him and they have a good plan in place for him next year.  But at the middle school, it's still an unknown.  That would concern me.  


It sounds like if he goes to middle school next year, there may be social issues.  What social issues would you anticipate if he's retained?  Poor self esteem would be one concern.  But is it possible he could actually gain confidence? I don't know the answer, I'm just raising the question.


I'm sorry you have such a tough decision ahead of you.  Good luck on figuring out what's best for your ds. 

post #20 of 32

LauraLoo, how do the kids interpret his slow to respond style?  I wonder if there's a rep he could cultivate to mask it?  Like he's the quiet guy or something?  Could you equip him with some standard responses that he could use to bridge the lag time between input and response, broader than the standard "hmmm" or "ummm" many, many people use?

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